Research

Our Department is one of the leading philosophy departments in the UK, with researchers working in most of the major areas of philosophy.

The Department’s research staff is comprised of twenty permanent members, plus a number of post-doctoral researchers. The Department is dedicated to high-quality academic research, and scored highly in the recent REF.

Staff members’ research interests are diverse, spanning all of the major areas of philosophy, and with numerous inter-disciplinary links. In recent years the Department has hosted a number of major research projects, with external funding from the Wellcome Institute, the ERC, the AHRC, and the Leverhulme Trust, among others. The Department puts on regular workshops, seminars and conferences, and welcomes a regular stream of visiting scholars from around the world (see our calendar for upcoming events).

The Department is particularly noted for its strength in the philosophy of science, logic and mathematics, for which it is one of the major centres in the English-speaking world. The Department is home to the Centre for Science and Philosophy, which promotes the interpretation of science through collaboration with other disciplines, and to the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science, which promotes work at the intersection of philosophy and the medical sciences. Other areas of research strength include ethics and political philosophy, history of philosophy, and philosophy of mind and language.

For more details about our research see our people profiles.

Communicating our research with the wider public is an important and regular activity for us. For more information see our Public Engagement.

Research areas

  • Epistemology: formal epistemology and decision theory, epistemic utility theory.
  • Ethics and Political  Philosophy: virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, Rousseau, immigration.
  • History of Philosophy: Kant, Heidegger, Leibniz, Aristotle.
  • Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics: theories of truth, structuralism, self-reference and paradoxes.
  • Philosophy of Biology: foundations of evolutionary theory, social evolution, explanation in genetics and molecular biology.
  • Philosophy of Medicine: the nature of illness, the phenomenology of health
  • Philosophy of Mind and Language: representation, fictional objects, formal semantics.
  • Philosophy of Physics: space and time, foundations of quantum mechanics, chaos and dynamical systems.
  • Philosophy of Science: realism and anti-realism, the metaphysics of science, induction and probability, values in science.

Projects

A selection of current and recent projects: 

  • The Metaphysical Unity of Science, Tuomas Tahko
    An ERC Consolidator Grant which pursues the question of what, if anything, unifies the natural sciences.
  • Truth and Semantics, Johannes Stern 
    An ERC Starting Grant exploring a unified perspective on theories of truth and semantics.
  • Life of Breath, Havi Carel
    Breathing in Cultural, Clinical and Lived Experience. A Wellcome Trust project exploring breathing and breathlessness at the interface between arts, humanities and medical practice.
  • Analogue Simulation in Modern Physics, Karim Thébault
    An AHRC project to evaluate methodological, epistemological and metaphysical foundations of analogue simulation in modern physics
  • Choosing for Changing Selves, Richard Pettigrew
    A Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship to explore how you should make decisions when you know that your values might change.
  • Darwinism and the Theory of Rational Choice (completed), Samir Okasha
    An ERC project to explore the connections between Darwinian evolutionary theory and the theory of rationality, from an overarching philosophical perspective.
  • Applying Homotopy Type Theory in Logic, Metaphysics, and the Philosophy of Physics (completed), James Ladyman
    A Leverhulme Trust research project to investigate Homotopy Type Theory, a new foundational programme in mathematics that is radically different from standard set-theoretic foundations.
  • Epistemic Utility Theory: Foundations and Applications (completed), Richard Pettigrew
    An ERC project aiming to apply the powerful tools of decision theory to investigate the epistemic norms that we take to govern what it is rational to believe.

Browse all our current and recent research projects on Explore Bristol Research.

Associated centres

Centre for Science and Philosophy
The Centre promotes the understanding of science through collaboration with other disciplines. Director: Professor James Ladyman

Centre for Health, Humanities and Science
The centre promotes interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research at the intersection of humanities, medicine, health and science. Director: Professor Havi Carel

Bristol Institute for Migration and Mobility Studies
The Institute provides a fresh approach to the study of migration through a prism of arts, humanities and social sciences. Director: Professor Christopher Bertram

Foundational Studies Bristol
An interdisciplinary research group dedicated to the study of logic and philosophy of mathematics. It comprises academics from the Department of Philosophy and School of Mathematics. Director: Professor Leon Horsten

Collaborations and activities

Collaborations with other University of Bristol departments

Staff are actively engaged in research collaborations with colleagues in physics, biology, medicine, economics, politics, mathematics and anthropology.

Collaborations with other Philosophy departments

The department has strong research ties with a number of philosophy departments in the UK, Europe and the US. In recent years, joint events have been held with the University of Oxford, the University of Groningen, KU Leuven, and LMU Munich.

Public Engagement

Our academics and students are regularly involved in events and projects with the general public. The department has strong links with many schools and community groups across the city and has worked on various philosophy education outreach projects. For further details see our Public Engagement.

Research in the faculty

Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts.

Research events

We run a regular research seminar series and frequently host one-off research events.

Equality and diversity

We are committed to creating a supportive, safe, and welcoming environment for all of our members.

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